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COMMENTS & QUESTIONS [for April, 2017]

Do you need some assistance in parenting your Aspergers or HFA child? Click here to use Mark Hutten, M.A. as your personal parent coach.


After 3 years of frustrating school situations turning into home situations, I find myself at my wits end figuring out where to start. I started researching Asperger's without much direction. We came across a teacher for 2nd grade who used (the symptoms listed) to chastise and leave my son out of so many school activities making them so much harder than necessary and starting our snowball of an utter distaste for school all together (with the help of the principal...who is no longer there). (all the while coupled with enuresis both nocturnal and diurnal) I didn't think it could get worse but 3rd grade led to an even worse year and larger distaste for going to school all together and another teacher who made it her mission to be mean to him and she was not even his classroom teacher. After the horrible dealings with the school, I moved him to a different school in hopes for a change. Things are a bit better where he does not hate school but he really has no friends, he is not good at catching a ball so football, basketball, baseball are all hard for him and that's what boys do is play. We are not big into buying video games but I am thinking that might be the only "skill" he might be able to gain. Don't get me wrong, he loves art but has the I can't attitude with almost everything. He wants to learn to cook (and I am trying) but has a hard time trying to make ramen or mac and cheese, plus he has become very picky about foods. He wont wear jeans but wants to ride horses ( we can not really accommodate that but occasionally do let him go on a ride). He is picky about clothes. He does not like to follow any kind of routine (lacks hygiene etc unless its an argument). I have an alarm set for every 2 hours to remind him to go to the bathroom but can not do that at school. I am beginning to wonder if Asperger's and the enuresis are related. The school refused to test him stating that lower functioning kids needed access to those funds and he would be taking away from them because he is high functioning. It has lead I believe to a delay in his education which became apparent in 2nd grade to me. His 4th grade teacher now really works hard on one skill at a time for him to achieve before moving forward but writing is definitely difficult. After begin left behind at the other school and learning that I can't gets you out of doing work, he is struggling. he is in the GT program but cant do a science fair project, does not like to read any more, cant pick a hobby....the list goes on. I feel like I am failing as a parent and do not know where to turn. Both boys ( i have 2) were in therapy for a different reason and she quit seeing them suggesting that I take more parenting classes since they just enjoy misbehaving. Neither of them have officially be diagnosed with Asperger's although that is where my searching has led me. My second son was doing ok socially but I am seeing horrible tantrums with him, and many kids not wanting to be his friend -- things always have to be his way, he always has to win, he has started stealing little things and my husband is not really on board with much. We definitely work too much to have much one on one time with them but I am beginning to think that I need to quit my job and we need to restructure our parenting to start accommodating the possibility that these two will never be able to function alone in society, hold down good jobs, be responsible with money, know how to cook, etc unless we make some MAJOR life changes and I do not even know where to start. After all of that......


Dear Mark,

I recently discovered your blog and was wondering if you would be willing to share information about a survey for parents and family caregivers with your readers?  The survey is for parents and family caregivers of teens and young adults (ages 13-25) with a developmental disability, intellectual disability, or autism spectrum disorder (including Asperger's).

The survey asks about caregivers’ experiences and wellbeing. I'm a graduate student at Illinois Tech and my advisor, Dr. EJ Lee, and I hope that by learning more about the experiences of families during their youth’s transition to adulthood that we can help better inform the supports available. 

The survey takes 25-45 minutes to complete and twenty $30 gift cards will be raffled off for participants. The survey is open through April 15, 2017.

The survey link is:

Thank you in advance for your help! Please email me with any questions.

Thank you! 


Hello Mr Hutten

I have been looking at your website and videos and am hoping that some of your books etc would be able to help us with our son, Nathan. He is 6 and is - I think - high functioning autistic. He's been diagnosed, but nowadays they just rubber stamp kids with ASD, although the paediatrician said at our first meeting that he's clearly high functioning. He's very intelligent (his reading is amazing) and is advanced in maths. He's at a special school, at which he is doing well.

The problems we have are that although he has a good, wide vocabulary, he doesn't use it properly. He can't converse and has no interest in two-way conversation. It's almost impossible to engage him in anything he's not interested in, or for that matter anything you want him to do. For instance, he wouldn't pay attention long enough to learn a board game or for us to explain how something works. Sometimes he will launch into a great long diatribe 'at you' about a variety of subjects, observations, what people are doing, what's happening on a TV programme he's watching or a game he's playing, and he'll keep looking at you as if to say 'are you getting this?' but most of the time you can't even get an answer out of him as to what he wants for tea. It ends up being multiple choice, from which he picks one of the choices - which are very limited anyway! Either that or it's 'would you like a cake, yes or no?' to which he'll say 'yes' or 'no'. He's obsessed with electronic devices and always has been, which I don't think helps. He won't sit with us in the kitchen for family meals and eats only in the sitting room.

He's also very inflexible and has tantrums if things don't go his way - if we leave the park too soon for his liking, or if we can't go one day when he wants to. However, he can follow instructions (e.g. please pass me that camera', 'eat your apple please, it's nearly time for bed') and he's not particularly sensitive to sound, touch or other stimuli. He doesn't really stim, and he does have a sense of danger. Meltdowns are very rare, but tantrums aren't!

With this brief outline, I wondered which of your books/forums etc. would be best to address his problems, to get him to talk with us, increase his interactive attention span and improve his behaviour.

I look forward to hearing from you, and hopefully gaining some success with your programmes.


Dear Mr. Hutten,

My name is Annabelle. I am a 17 year old student from Maryland, and I think my mother has ASD. The weight of living with a parent who has this disorder has come crashing down on me recently, and I'm absolutely desperate for a solution. I was incredibly disappointed to find that not many other people share my experiences, so not much research has been done in terms of support for parents with ASD, and more importantly the children and teenagers affected by problematic parenting.

I read your article, and so far it has been the only useful information I've found regarding my situation. I noticed it was written more than 10 years ago, and what little information I've found on the subject is just as old, so the reason for me contacting you is to ask what can I do? Are there support groups for people like me? Will my mother ever be the parent I need her to be, and if so how can it be done?

I feel stupid saying that I'm psychologically damaged as a result of my mother's parenting, but the reality of how bad it really is has gotten to me and I'm at the end of my rope. There are a million details I could send to you to help you better understand the situation, but the big picture is that I need help and I think that you're the only person who understands parents with ASD enough to give me the answers I need. None of the therapists I've had in the past have ever acknowledged that my mother is a problem, and the one I have currently realizes that there's something wrong with her, but she doesn't have the knowledge to help.

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read this, and if there's anyone I can contact to contribute to research on this topic please let me know.


Hello Mr Hutten,

I am having a problem with my son who is 25 years old.  He is currently unemployed  and frustrated with life. I think he is also depressed at times
 He went abroad at 18 and did not complete his education. Since then his life has not been the same. He sleeps ,lime and does nothing constructive. He claims he wants to be an athlete
but does not want to work hard for anything.He still lives at home  and expects everything to be given to him
He blames me for any failure he may have in life and is verbally abusive when i try to encourage him to change.
I am getting very uncomfortable being around him and  not sure what to do.

Presently I left the house for a couple days because I was beginning to feel afraid and stressed out.

Can you advise on this at all? Hope you can help.


Hello Mark,
My situation is complex in that my youngest son is 17.  He lives with his mother, brother and sister. His mother and I are divorced now 10 years. I cannot afford to live in the area where they are, forcing me to live with my mother 50 miles away. My son Alex is very distant towards me. He will never pick up my phone calls to speak to me. He will answer an occasionally text saying he's busy with his friends and can't talk. I travel up there on the weekends to see them but they all three are never around or do not wish to make any plans due to work and friends. Alex is my main concern because of his distant attitude. He also has fits of anger and if you try to discuss anything with him he will just either shutdown, storm off or just ignore you. There are many more details, but for now these are the main points. I need to talk to my son and try to bond with him, but I can't do this if he refuses to see or speak to me and it's been such a long time that I really don't know where or how to begin or what to say. By the way, I'm receiving no support from his mother as long as he listens to her, when the anger begins then I might get a phone call from her. I'm hoping your program will help me and any advice that you could offer.
Most grateful parent


Hi Mark
I am from England, UK and been watching your YouTube videos for a while now. I have been married for nearly 6 years now.

My husband is very intelligent, has excellent memory, insight and knowledge of many things and is fantastic with his hands. He can build and fix just about anything from cental heating to cars to boilers to computers. He is a dentist by trade and does well at his job.

During our engagement period, he would send me the most sweetest and caring messages, give me his time and clearly enjoy my company. There was no physical contact or sex before marriage due to cultural/religious reasons.

After marriage our honeymoon was pretty normal except we didnt manage intercourse. There was alot of physical contact but intercourse did not happen.

This became the main cause of friction. After almost 2 years and after seeing several therapists of sorts we managed intercourse (on the instruction of the therapist) and subsequently had a child. During pregnany i realised what a mess i was in. I felt trapped. I felt cheated and deceived. I felt my husband only managed penetration because the therapist said i had a right to ask for divorce if we went back the next day without managing it. It felt totally fake and horrible. And  a massive amount of bitterness had built up by this stage.

I spent many nights laying in bed feeling totally devasted, lonely, frustrated and dead. My husband would spend all night downstairs often falling asleep on the sofa till morning. Then he would get up and go to work. And then this would repeat.

I walked away several times, cried, screamed, begged. Its like i was just talking to a brick wall. He was empty. Hollow eyes. Often closed his eyes when I spoke. No response or very little. No words of comfort. No reassurance. No explanations. The only time he really seemed to stir was when i walked away back to my parents. He would come for me begging. Crying. And i went back each time.

There were some good moments but each was coloured by this huge elephant in the room.

He used to tell me how self sufficient he was and liked to be. He didnt need me in anyway not in the traditional sense of keeping the house and cooking or any sexual or emotional way ofcourse. He was very private. Told me he wished he could switch me on and off. Told me he keeps me at an arms length and doesnt let me in. I always felt something was majorly wrong, off, odd. But he kept saying he didnt know why the relationship was the way it was. My head felt like it was exploding.

2 years on from our child being born, as I was spending time away at my parents he told me he thought he had ADHD and booked to see the doctor. This was a shock to me but also a relief. Like we had crossed a major hurdle. Like i always knew there was something wrong and now finally we were putting it right. But the doctor put from seeking an official diagnosis for many reasons and since then, a year and half later my husband is reluctant to even go.down that path. After speaking to.someone over the phone, it was suggested to me that more than ADHD my husband may have aspergers. This is when I found you and began reading more. I spoke to my husband about it but he is in mostly denial. He believes if he does have anything it is only a tiny part of this huge mess. Believes that its alot to do with my mood and my inability to be happy and cheerful with him.

We went to see a couples therapist and although that helped us talk whilst we were there and there has been some improvement, we always come back to this. She also was not keen on the label of aspergers or adhd. I just feel like no one understands.

I can literally count the number of times we have had sex in the last 5 and half years. I feel completely  lost, resentful and could say I hate my husband. Wish I had never married him. All I wanted my whole life was a man to be my roots and my wings. To carry me protect me want me need me be attracted to me have desire. I wanted a big family lots of kids. And I feel hes robbed me of it all. I cant even have any more kids because he cant perform the most natural thing between husband and wife. I feel i have no purpose. Im 33 and feel like im getting old to move on to divorce and try marriage for a second time. I feel broken for my child who at age 3 now, is on his own with no siblings. I feel he senses the bitterness and tension. I would hate for him to grow up seeing us like this and yet hate for him to not be in a home with a mum and dad. My husband loves him to bits and is very hands on and good to him. I think it would really effect my son if i walked away because he really loves his dad and spending time.with him. Yet im stuck and trapped. Ive put on so much weight, ive stopped getting 'dressed'. My eating habits are horrendous. I binge eat and comfort eat. My health is all over the place. My faith is down in the dumps. I cant look in the mirror anymore. I hate this life. What i thought i would be couldnt be any more different then what i am. 

But i wake up each day and give my love to my child. Teach him play with him give him the last bit of energy i have.   

What do I do? My husbands tells me he wants me to stay and that he doesnt want a divorce. Ofcourse theres nothing more i want than to make this work. But i cant live like this anymore. Its like i die a bit more each day.

Please is there any advice you can give? I wish I could attend one of your programs.

Thank you so much Mark, in advance. It feels good to let it all out to someone who I know is an expert. You dont know how much it means to me. Sorry for the very lengthy email and any errors in spelling etc.


Hello Mark, I have subscribed to your online parenting program.
Just to give you a brief histor, I have a 15 yr old daughter; that I adopted, from Vietnam, when she was 3 months old. I am a single parent. She grew up in Italy ( my Mom was Italian) and we moved to the US in 2012, when she was 11 yrs old.
That said, she is now fully fitting with the list of behavioral patterns you list:
Does your child often:
  • lose his temper
  • argue with adults
  • refuse to comply with rules and requests
  • deliberately annoy people
  • blame others for his mistakes and misbehavior

=> Is your child often:

  • touchy and easily annoyed by others
  • angry and resentful
  • spiteful and vindictive

After two years of back and forth in mood swings ( both hers and mine) and other unpleasant issues, I have recently been looking into a summer program , since she has stopped seeing the therapist. I am thinking she might  maybe find the support she needs to be a happier kid. 

The place I am looking into for one month this summer is:

I would really like your input on this idea, since I like your clean straight forward approach. I am trying to put in practice your guidelines,but I know it takes time. Since I am stressed now of her aggressive attitude,  I thought a break could be good for both of us.

Looking forward to your professional input!



I have become familiar with your website and will purchase your ebook, however, I am also looking for resources for my son such as Summer camps and or intensive programs that can help my son.  The issue is that he is high level and I fear sending him to a camp that may have teens who are far more severe on the spectrum.  My son Jay is 16.  He is failing school, he cares about nothing.  He has severe anxiety and depression, and traits of obsessive thinking are causing him anxiety and physical pain.  To the world, he appears normal until one gets to know him and his obsession with Russia, military, Hitler, tanks and other odd things.  He is attractive, but very short fused.   We have truly tried everything from therapy to psychiatry and meds and nothing works.   I feel like I am in a race to get him stable, healthy, and graduated from high school without much time left.   His biological mother emancipated herself from him, and my wife loves him but is not very nurturing towards him, so that presents a set of problems.   For myself, I tend to be overly accommodating, guilty, and enabling.  We now have a difficult teen and a unhealthy house.   The ebook may be a good place to start, but I know I am going to need much more.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Hi Mark,
My son is 15 years old and has HFA.  He is very smart, but only for what he finds interesting.  He is a freshman in high school and this is the first year I placed him in a general ed setting.  He has an IEP and also a para 1:1.

In the beginning of the school year his grades were great.  I basically micro-managed him at home and made sure all his work was done.  Homework counts as much as a test in his school.  This was the part that I could "control".  I did him an injustice by basically taking over because he would not know where or when to start any assignment.  I thought I would "help" him and then he would learn from that.  He just got more used to it.  He has told me that it is all my fault and that I should not have helped him from the start and now he can't change until the next school year.  This is a behavior he has which manifests from his having OCD,  His school counselor has told me to let go of the control over homework and that Ryan would see what the consequences would be.  So I did.  I let it go and now he is at risk of failing most of his classes.  He doesn't seem to care.  He has a little arrogance to him when he says that in school he is one of the smartest kids (the teachers are always telling him that he is so smart). The family has been in therapy because of all this.  It has taken a toll on me and it is affecting the rest of the family.  While in therapy, my family is "perfect" and agrees to everything and insures that they will support me and help me with tackling my son's behaviors.  Once home, everything goes back to the way it was.  They all "think" they are helping.  They seem to unintentionally sabotage my assertive parenting.  Although I've asked my husband to do the online sessions, he just says he looked it over.  I have two older daughters too.  They get annoyed at my son and I see them smirk when I use the "assertive parenting".  I am so emotionally done.  I seem to be micro-managing my family and how they should react to my son and then they get mad at me.  I feel the family is in crisis mode, but have already reached out for help and it's not working. I've tried all that I can.  I will continue to work with my son, but have detached myself from the rest of the family, especially my husband.

I cannot figure how to make "consequences" work with Ryan.  If I take it away for a day, he's ok with that and finds something else to do.  I can't possibly take everything away, if he didn't make his bed or put his clothes away.  He "jumps down my throat" as soon as I open my mouth.  He doesn't even wait for me to say anything, or even listen to my tone.  I've tried the "poker" face and calm talking and he's told me he hates my voice like that.  He argues every word with me and I don't know how to "consequence" that.  I've made lists, contracts and everything else suggested.  It works for a day or two and then no one looks at it.  It's hard to do it alone to make it work, but I can't change my husband. I understand that he is tired when he gets home from work.  He has a long commute and we are not young anymore.  We are both in our mid 50s.  My parents were already retired at that age and enjoying life. We are all on a short fuse.  I don't want to become a "therapy" junkie, but it seems to only help me because I can vent about my family.

Sorry this is so long, and not really sure what I am actually trying to ask you.  I know I am not following through, but I guess I "fell off the wagon".

P.S.  Ryan is not abusive in any way and pretty much is an "old soul".  He likes to play the guitar and learn songs.  He loves british rock, watching old tv sitcoms and british comedies.  He is very likeable and people find him interesting.  His disrespect is his answering back to me and my husband.  He does do this to his para too, but then is remorseful to her.  He has no filters and comes across as rude.  He definitely has the social emotional age of a 9-10 year old.


I am in a long term relationship with someone who has a son with an autism spectrum disorder, Aspergers.
We are about to move in together and he is 22 yrs old and a high school and jr college grad who still lives at home and is unemployed.
My questions are these:
He is physically affectionate with his Mom, to a level that actually makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable.
He hugs her and hangs on her back repeatedly, which increases in frequency when in larger groups. for example, he may do this 3 or 4 times in a 2hour period
From what I have read, this behavior is counter to most of the experiences of others, who say that their child shies away from physical expressions
I have not shared my uncomfortableness with her because I feel guilty about telling someone that your son hugs you too much for an adult, especially since he has this disorder.
I try to think this through but I cant shake the feeling that it is just over the line of inappropriate social behavior. I know it bothers me when I see it, but then I feel guilty about being bothered by it.
 Can you offer any suggestions? at my wits end


Hi Mark,
Thank you for all your work on behalf of ASD!
I enjoy your weekly info in my emails.
I probably am ADD but otherwise a neurotypical married 47 years to a man I was told was autistic in 2000 by Rhonda Milrad, a couple's therapist in Beverly Hills associated with SRI.  I had no idea that she was literally sincere. I thought autistic meant retarded & he's anything a mechanical engineer.  Short of it is: do you know of any neurotypical wife married to ASD support groups around los angeles area, more specifically, Glendale to Monrovia, La Crescenta ( where I live) to Burbank, Ca.?
Seriously, I had a whole diatribe written to you of everything I've endured with this man thinking he was the biggest narcissist ever!!!!! Pretty sure my dad had same diagnosis as well as 2 of my husband's brothers & possibly 2 sisters.  But, I just appreciate the info you provided in the ebook though it is all I can download...not the movies😕.  My friend had me read The Rosie Project very recently then the Rosie Effect & I knew for sure I was married to someone w/ASD.  He has 2 nephews w/Aspergers so it's in the family.  Our son had ADHD but is totally different in a good way to my husband & neither of our daughters have it but 1 granddaughter is something on the spectrum but barely.
Anyway, any help with a support group for me would be tremendously helpful!
PS...My busband is 76 & I doubt he will buy into this or remember what Rhonda said because his pat answer to everything is: I'm fine, I like how I am, I don't need to change!!!
SO, I need the support group or a divorce!!!
Thanks for any help,


I am sure that you have a lot of parents emailing  you at their wit’s end.  I need some help  with my son.

  • He  is 11.5 years old
  • He is VERY smart  and very literal
  • He is Obsessed  with things,  right now  it’s Pokemon and it’s  him  wanting  the  Nintendo  Switch
  • He has been taken out of our home  for violence and placed in a group home
  • He physically attacks  my husband and I if he is told  no or doesn’t get his way  ( he missed  at  least 50 days before he was  removed about  3 weeks  ago)
  • He  has also  attacked  his  grandmother  that  is not in the  home,  but only lives  a few miles away
  • When he goes to school, he does well, he interacts (in his own way,  he is still  into himself )
  • He has spent 2, 1 week sessions at a psychiatric  hospital,  one in July of 2016 and another February 2017
  • He is currently on Pindolol and Lexapro
  • He is about 230 pounds,  probably 50 pounds were  gained since July 2016 when he was  placed on Abilify,  he was on this med until the February 2017 change to the Pindolol
  • He was just recently diagnosed with autism, testing was done Dec 27th 2016
  • He spent  2  weeks in November 2016 at detention before the  charges were dropped for  domestic violence, this was  before the autism diagnosis. The  next day he was supposed  to go to school, he pushed me down and I took  him  into the police,  they refused to do anything.
  • His violence was getting worse  and worse, he  was  hitting myself and my husband who is  disabled daily
  • CPS is involved and they filed  an abuse/neglect  petition to have him removed from the home an placed in this home where he is  now.  They tried to file  the petition as  delinquency, but  the  prosecutor would not do this  because of his  age and  diagnosis.
  • We are willing to go through  this abuse/neglect petition to get Joe help, but I need it to  be the  right  help! I can’t afford  to have him  gone for months and  not have things get better!  We need a plan in place for when he comes home, we need the rules and consequences set out, in  writing, and he needs to  know this  is coming.  
  • I need help with the rules and consequences that make sense!  Before he was placed  in this residential facility, he would react violently to anything that wasn’t his way,  we would call  the police, they would come which would normally calm things down, but the pattern would repeat.    For example, he would  promise to  go to school the  next day, then refuse in the morning, then act violently towards us,  we would call  the police, he would either calm down and stay home, or  they would take him  into school.  Next day,  same thing.  We are afraid  of him,  he started off  kicking a year ago, now, he will throw anything  he  gets his hands on, hit us with anything he can get  to.   Scream and yell that he is going to  kill  us.  He has  choked  me before.   The bruises are now gone,  since  he has  been out of the home for 3  weeks, but it  was  bad.
  • He is  perfect  at this home, he follows the rules, he is  doing  great with his  school  work. He  is  polite and respectful to the staff.
  • This makes us look like the problem  is  us and  it makes  it  feel like the  problem  is  us!
  • He will say, “ you only hurt the ones you love”

So,  I  am  going  to work through your system with my husband, but we I want to  know  what he should be getting at this place  he  is now.  He gets  a  hour a week  of counseling.  How  can we best  work  with them to make what we are working  on effective for  when he  comes home?   He knows we love him, he knows what he does is wrong, he  says he doesn’t want to do  it, yet, I don’t think the  behavior  will change  easily.   He doesn’t mind  the  separation as much as he should  in my mind, he is fine with living there.  He says he wants  to  come home, but that is mostly to have more  “stuff”.   It’s not that he  misses  us  that I can see.

So?  You have been doing  this longer than I have, I don’t even really know the  questions to ask at  this point!


We have three children ages 30, 28, 26.  Our two neurotypical kids, a son and a daughter, are married and each have two children and are functioning well with their parenting and employment and marriages.  We are so pleased and happy for them, and we love being grandparents!

I'm going to give you a little background about our son , but I'm not sure you want or need it, so I'll trust you will take it or leave it, and I'll mark my actual question below so that you can get straight to that if you prefer. And I trust you'll let me know what info is helpful, and what isn't in future.

Our son with Asperger's (28) went to a school/residential program at age 21 (at our insistence) and after some trepidation, got into the groove and learned a great deal over the last six years.  He graduated from their facility and though we didn't feel that he was ready for it, they helped him get an apartment and he lived on his own for eight months.

He had a job working at an auto parts store driving deliveries, until he started having anxiety attacks on the freeway.  After months of trying everything we all could think of, the store finally gave him the opportunity to stock shelves instead of driving.  That lasted for several months and then they started scheduling him to drive again.  End of the story is, he has moved home with the hopes that he can look for a job and an apartment closer to us and to his other family members.

His independent living experience started out well and declined to where his social life was nonexistent and he was living on energy drinks, ice-cream, tortillas and frozen pizza.  He's never been overly responsive on his phone and we could go for days trying to reach him to touch base and not hear anything back and wonder if he was well or alive or desperate for help.  We hoped that if he were a bit closer we could at least be close enough to know if he needed assistance or not.

How do we engage our son in a conversation about his future when it seems that he has no concept of what he wants, or believes that he can have or attain in his future?

Now that Brad has been home for about a month, he is less interested in finding a job, doesn't want to meet with the counselor at vocational rehab, doesn't want to drive, or look for an apartment.  He seems to be very frustrated and shuts down (eyes closed and unresponsive) when we bring up his moving to the next step, or figuring out what that next step is.  He is helpful with outside chores, feeding chickens, caring for the dog, mowing lawns, trimming, but isn't caring for his room or bathroom and doesn't follow-through when asked to take care of those things.  He sleeps a lot, watches movies, plays games, listens to reviews, occasionally picks up a book to read. He is amiable and pleasant most of the time and doesn't ever tantrum or meltdown.  He just recedes when he doesn't want to engage in a conversation about his life or goals.

Thank you for listening and for your help!


Dear Mr. Hutten,
Whilst trying to get answers to some of the riddles I face in trying to understand David (48 years old) I found your site on the internet.
As David hasn't had a formal diagnosis but displays many of the autistic traits mentioned I wanted to ask whether you feel that I might benefit from your expertise in this field. I have been employed to "look after" David on a probationary period of three months. Now half way through this period I am finding it an almost impossible task as he studiously avoids any conversation with me and resorts to writing notes if he has to. His mother passed away 18 months ago and he has only cousins who don't live close by. I would dearly like to be able to help him with his day to day life but have no idea where (or how ) to start. Am happy to pay for your assistance, but just wanted to be sure that dealing with an adult rather than a child would be within the parameters of your counseling.

Hi Mark,

I am desperate for help! I realize most of your advice revolves around teens, but my ODD daughter is 4, and I need help.

We are fostering-to-adopt my daughter and her infant baby sister. Kate came to live with us last March after an emergency removal from another foster home where there were several older foster children, of varying ages, who all came from various sexual abuse backgrounds. As you can imagine, it was discovered the kids were all perping on each other, and all of the kids were removed and separated in one night.

So, in comes Kate to my husband and I who have no other children. At first everything was perfect, but the more comfortable she got, the worse it became. Now, over a year later, we have gotten through the tantrums and battles of will, but we have one recurring issue: she repeatedly asks other children to pull their pants down so she can "see" their privates.

I demanded Kate be put into counseling when we discovered why the children were all removed, which she saw a very reputable sexual abuse forensic psychologist, who had her for weekly sessions over several months, before dismissing her feeling secure that Kate had never been "perped" on, but we would never know what she may have seen.

She has now been to a second counselor as well after these repeated behaviors who had the same opinion. My problem is- this keeps happening- pretty regularly. She has way more knowledge than a 4 year old should, and I don't know the appropriate way to react.

We have punished her, talked to her, explained to her, modeled appropriate behaviors, and set very clear expectations- nothing has worked. We model everything around safety and have explained that showing and/or looking at private parts is not safe for her or others and have drilled into her what to do if someone asks to look at/touch her private areas.

What can I do here? All of the research says that "correct and early intervention" can help young children of sexual abuse or early sexual knowledge go on to lead "normal" lives, but what do I do when two counselors have dismissed her saying that she's "fine" and doesn't need  counseling? What is the appropriate reaction my husband and I should have?

Please help!


Good Afternoon Mark,
My name is Mary and I have a son that is 19 years old. His name is Trey. He grew up in mostly a single parent home with grandparents assisting me in raising him and an absentee father. I am now married and Trey has a good relationship with his Stepfather. 
Trey has several issues going on. He was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia and is blind in one eye and slightly impaired in the other. He was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when he was 7 years old after having a neuro-psychological evaluation after we noticed him having difficulties in 2nd grade. As he entered puberty and adolescence he has developed some depression but also some very intense anxiety. He graduated in May of 2016 and wanted to develop an online video game. We knew that he was not ready and very immature to be entering adulthood and therefore told him he had a year to work on this game, and work on his own issues of anxiety and depression etc. He has been seeing a psychiatrist and getting some light medication to help him sleep however his anxiety runs rampant and he is terrified of taking anxiety medication or antidepressants.Needless to say an online video game was not launched and he is still having terrible and crippling anxiety when it comes to the outside world and getting a job etc. 
Trey has said he wants a job and has actually been working with a job coach through vocational rehab here in AL, but we are nearing the interview process and he is freaking out and I am not sure he is going to go or even be able to be around people with his social and overall anxiety. I was just reading about your book launching adult children with Aspergers and am very interested. I realize the techniques involve parents creating accountability and holding the kids accountable etc. My concern is using this on my son who has such tremendous anxiety, and some depression. At the beginning of this year when he was staying home and my parents were checking in on him, I was out of town, he admitted to trying to hang himself. He has mentioned suicide many times as well and I am afraid if I make his life to difficult that he may do it. 
The other issue is that he will not cooperate in taking the meds he probably needs. So I feel very caught in between a rock and a hard place in  launching this kid! 
I am considering more life insurance etc., to provide for him as I do not know what he is truly capable mentally, emotionally and physically. I feel like people in my area do not truly understand his issues or how to help me with him. 
Also, I should mention that my Dad and Trey's Papa just passed away in January unexpectedly and this was the only father Trey has ever known. So it is another layer of difficulty for him right now. 
Can you please give me your best advice as to how to help my son. He seems impossible, he is creating a situation where he refuses the help he needs and I feel like I am running out of options. 
I should note that intellectually Trey is highly intelligent. He has a very high IQ and I believe is pretty brilliant. He is the typical Asperger's kid that is unmotivated, messy, mouthy and difficult though. Also I should mention as I am sure you already know he can be manipulative and as he has gotten older it is harder to distinguish what is manipulation and what his real issues are.


He's very bright and does well in the public school academically, when he goes to  class, or stays in class,  but suffers from the usual social problems of an Aspergers child. His psychiatrist also does not think his intellect is being sufficiently challenged or developed by the public school curriculum., and because of this he gets frustrated and acts out negatively.  Threatening to harm himself and others.  He also has been diagnosed with ADHD and OHD. 

My son is a Chess King, Lego King, and can hold a conversation with an Adult, (always has been able to), but because of his "issues' he is failing at life. 

I am unable to keep a job, because of absence, leaving early, going in late, and I really want the best for my son.  WE currently live in GEorgia, but I am preparing to relocate to South Carolina, where hopefully, we can get additional assistance for him.

Avoiding Social Interaction: The Dilemma for Teens on the Autism Spectrum

Teens with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) have difficulty with the basic elements of social interaction, which may include a failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments with others, as well as a lack of social or emotional reciprocity.

The reason this is such a problematic issue is because we, as humans, are social creatures by nature. Social interaction is a “requirement” within our species.

The sad truth is that teens on the autism spectrum desire acceptance and want to “fit-in” with their peer group, but are often ostracized, mocked and bullied. In the adolescent world where EVERYONE feels insecure, the teenager who appears “different” or “odd” is voted off the island.

Many of the traits associated with HFA and AS tend to exacerbate peer-rejection. For example, the “special needs” teen:
  • faces similar academic problems as students with ADD due to his distractibility and difficulty organizing materials
  • finds friendship and all its nuances of reciprocity to be exhausting
  • has poor social skills (e.g., lack of eye contact during conversation, body language that conveys a lack of interest)
  • is not privy to street knowledge of sex and dating behaviors that other adolescents pick up naturally
  • is stiff and rule-oriented and acts like a little adult (a deadly trait in any teen popularity contest) 
  • may be naive when it comes to puberty and sexuality
  • may remain stuck in grammar school clothes and hobbies instead of moving into adolescent concerns (e.g., dating, clubs)
  • often experiences depression that results from chronic social tension 
  • often has poor motor coordination, which leaves him out of high school sports (typically an essential area of male-bonding and friendship in the teenage years)
  • often neglects his hygiene 
  • tends to attract bullies, but is less likely to report bullying than his peers
  • tends to be more immature than his peers
  • typically does not care about adolescent fads and clothing styles (concerns that obsess everyone else in his peer group)

The hormonal changes of adolescence - coupled with the problems outlined above - usually means that an HFA or AS adolescent becomes emotionally overwhelmed on almost a daily basis. Childish temper tantrums may reappear, and it is not uncommon for the teen to experience "meltdowns" at home after another day filled with harassment, rejection, bullying, and pressure to conform.

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Parents of teens on the autism spectrum can usually tell whether or not their son or daughter is experiencing some form of social rejection by observing his or her behavior and attitude. HFA and AS adolescents who feel disliked by others and who have experienced some form of emotional abuse:
  • are disengaged from friends and classmates
  • are frequently ill (e.g., stomach aches, headaches, colds, etc.) 
  • are impulsive
  • are less able to calm themselves
  • are socially anxious
  • become avoidant or aggressive when dealing with negative emotions
  • behave in ways that cause them to get into conflicts at school
  • exhibit emotions too intense for a situation
  • experience a significant degree of anger and frustration
  • have a preference for isolation at home and school
  • have difficulty controlling their attention span
  • have difficulty decreasing negative emotions
  • have difficulty understanding emotional experiences
  • may refuse to go to school
  • may skip classes
  • often seem genuinely depressed
  • tend to have poor academic performance

All teenagers are required to use increasingly sophisticated social skills and to interpret ever more subtle social nuances as they progress through high school. For that reason, young people diagnosed with HFA or AS often find themselves more and more in conflict with prevailing social norms as they move through adolescence. Due to the fact that social encounters are seldom reinforcing (i.e., rewarding) for young people on the autism spectrum, they often avoid social interaction all together. Over time, they may develop negative attitudes about themselves, which makes it even more difficult to continue attempts at social interaction. As a result, the cycle continues – they retreat even deeper into their own little world.

Spending a lot of time in voluntary isolation creates a host of problems in-and-of itself. For example, teens who isolate may become depressed due to the lack of social contact. A depressed adolescent often loses interest in everyday activities and drops out of social groups at school. Depression is a Catch-22. It can cause isolation, but may also come from a lack of social interaction.

Furthermore, an adolescent who isolates may spend too much time playing video games and on social networking sites, thus losing touch with family, friends and his peer group. He may replace genuine social interaction with chat rooms and conversations with strangers. Adolescents who interact online lose out on genuine social interaction, which stunts their emotional growth even further.

When HFA and AS teens begin to act-out their frustrations (e.g., with verbal or physical aggression), it is usually a sign that they are not receiving adequate support in mastering their environments, both at home and school. In addition, their acting-out does not necessarily reflect willfulness, rather they lack the social skills needed to avoid be targeted as the “odd ball.”

After years of social failures, many young people on the spectrum literally give up. They simply stop trying to make friends and adopt an avoidant personality style (even though they may not have the formal diagnosis on Avoidant Personality Disorder). Teens with avoidant personality traits may display any of the following:
  • view themselves as socially inept or personally unappealing
  • use of fantasy as a form of escapism to interrupt painful thoughts and emotions
  • tend to avoid social interaction for fear of being ridiculed and rejected
  • self-imposed social isolation
  • self-harm
  • self-critical about their problems relating to others
  • mistrust of others or oneself
  • feelings of loneliness
  • feelings of helplessness
  • feelings of inadequacy and inferiority
  • extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation by others 
  • exhibits heightened self-doubt
  • emotional distancing related to intimacy
  • drastically-reduced or absent self-esteem
  • depression
  • avoids physical contact because it has been associated with an unpleasant stimulus
  • avoidance of social interaction despite a strong desire to be close to others 
  • anxiety
  • agoraphobia
  • a pattern of social inhibition

Treatment for HFA and AS teens with avoidant personality traits should involve psychotherapy led by a professional with specific experience in working with individuals on the autism spectrum. Treatment often moves slowly at first, because “special needs” teens who have experienced chronic peer-abuse have a tendency to distrust others, including some adults.

Treatment approaches often include the following:

1. Talk Therapy – This is a technique wherein the therapist leads the teenager in conversation about his experiences, attitudes and behaviors. It can be incorporated into any therapeutic approach. By maintaining a conversational dialogue about the teen’s fears, shame, and insecurities, he learns to be less sensitive to criticisms and rejection.

2. Social Skills Training (SST) – This is a form of behavior therapy that is used by therapists – and even parents and teachers – to help HFA and AS teens who have difficulties relating to others. A major goal of SST is teaching the teenager (who may or may not have emotional problems) about the verbal - as well as nonverbal - behaviors involved in social interactions. There are many children on the autism spectrum who have never been taught such interpersonal skills (e.g., making "small talk" in social settings, the importance of good eye contact during a conversation, etc.).

Furthermore, many of these “special needs” individuals have not learned to "read" the many subtle cues contained in social interactions (e.g., how to tell when someone wants to change the topic of conversation or shift to another activity). SST helps autistic teens to learn to interpret these and other social signals so that they can determine how to act appropriately in the company of peers in a variety of different situations. When teens on the spectrum improve their social skills or change selected behaviors, they will raise their self-esteem and increase the likelihood that peers will respond favorably to them. Therapists learn to change the teen’s social behavior patterns by practicing selected behaviors in individual or group therapy sessions.

3. Psychodynamic Therapy – With this method, the counselor actively empathizes with the HFA or AS teen’s painful inner experience to build the trust relationship. The goal of this therapy involves helping the teenager develop a keen and accurate sense of self-awareness. The counselor then assists her in identifying unconscious thought processes that influence her daily behavior. As a result, the teen can examine and find closure for conflicts and painful emotions stemming from past dysfunctional relationships. The counselor will then use talk therapy to guide the teen in seeing connections between her deep personal shame and how it affects social and interpersonal functioning.

4. Group Therapy – Most counselors would recommend waiting until the HFA or AS teen has made some progress toward recovery before putting him in a group therapy environment. But for the teenager who is ready, group therapy can give the avoidant personality a positive social experience and help him accept feedback in a safe and controlled setting.

5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This approach assumes distorted and inaccurate thinking patterns create the foundation for avoidant personality tendencies. The counselor uses CBT strategies to change the distorted thought patterns by examining - and refuting - the truth of the assumptions surrounding them. For example, suppose a teen with autism strongly believes she is inferior to her peers and that others do not like her.

The counselor would test the validity of the teen’s belief by asking her to name a few friends who have enjoyed spending time with her in the past. The counselor may also ask the teen to talk about past social experiences that she enjoyed. In this way, the counselor shows the teen that people do enjoy her company and that social activities can be enjoyable. This demonstrates that the teen’s fear and insecurity about social situations are illogical and unsubstantiated. This technique is called “cognitive restructuring.”

If you have a teen with HFA or AS, you are dealing with many issues that parents of “typical” teens do not have to deal with.  The teenager on the spectrum is emotionally more immature than his peers. He may be indifferent - or even hostile - to your concerns. He may refuse to do ANYTHING other than play video games. And he may hate school with a passion because he is dealing with social ostracism or academic failure on a daily basis.

However, by utilizing some of the treatment methods listed above, you can help your teen to weather the storm of adolescence and prepare for the challenges of adulthood. There is no reason why the future cannot be a bright one if interventions are started early.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

Aggressive Children on the Autism Spectrum: Advice for Parents and Teachers

“I’m an elementary school teacher in the Penfield Central school district. I have a young boy (age 7) in my class with high functioning autism that shoves other classmates impulsively. I have tried behavior modification. He will say what he did was wrong, and we will roleplay the proper way to handle his frustrations. However, he still pushes other students and is running the risk of being suspended. There seems to be no pattern or functional cause for these outbursts. I want to help this special needs student, but am running out of options. Does you have any ideas that may assist me!?”

The incidence of aggressive behavior in children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) is not uncommon – and occurs for a host of reasons. Faced with a world in which they find it difficult to interact socially, communicate clearly, and control their own emotions and behavior, young people on the autism spectrum sometimes respond with aggression toward others as a way to cope.

To be effective, interventions for aggression in HFA and AS children need to take the following factors into account:

1. Aggressive kids on the autism spectrum often don't even recognize – much less feel – the suffering of others. The lack of demonstrated empathy is possibly the most dysfunctional aspect of HFA and AS. Children on the spectrum experience difficulties in basic elements of social interaction, which may include (a) the failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with peers, (b) the lack of social or emotional reciprocity, and (c) impaired nonverbal behaviors in particular areas (e.g., eye contact, facial expression, posture, gesture, etc.). Thus, one of the dynamics involved with your HFA student is the fact that, due to his disorder, he is not aware of the fact that he is actually “hurting” other students emotionally or physically at the moment he is pushing them away. Without that awareness, he sees no need to change his behavior.

2. Children on the spectrum suffer from “mind-blindness,” which is essentially the opposite of empathy and can be described as “an inability to develop an awareness of what is in the mind of another person.” Generally speaking, autistic kids are delayed in developing a “theory of mind,” which normally allows developing children to “put themselves into someone else's shoes” (i.e., to imagine the thoughts and feelings of others). Thus, kids with HFA and AS often can’t conceptualize, understand, or predict emotional states in other people.

3. Autistic children also suffer from “alexithymia,” which can be described as a state of deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions, and is defined by (a) difficulty identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal, (b) difficulty describing feelings to other people, (c) constricted imaginal processes (as evidenced by a scarcity of fantasies), and (d) a stimulus-bound, externally-oriented cognitive style.

4. Most kids on the spectrum have difficulty processing everyday sensory information (e.g., sounds, sights, smells). This is called “sensory sensitivity,” and it can have a profound effect on a child’s behavior. “Typical” children process sensory information automatically without needing to think about it much. However, children with autism have difficulty processing everyday sensory information and are much more likely to become stressed or anxious – and even feel physical pain. This can result in difficult behavior. If the HFA or AS child gets sensory overload, he may experience a “meltdown” – or simply shut down. He experiences what is known as “fragmentation” (similar to being tuned into 20 TV channels at once).

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

5. For many kids with HFA and AS, aggression toward others is a powerful source of self-esteem, particularly if they lack other confirmation of their human worth. Kids with autism already know that they are “different.” Many – if not most – have already been teased, harassed, bullied and rejected by peers by the time they reach the 2nd grade. As a result, their self-esteem is exceedingly low. To compensate for this, many of these children will seek revenge in the form of aggression whenever they feel slighted. This is certainly not an excuse for aggressive behavior, but it does give parents and teachers some insight into a possible root cause of the dysfunctional behavior.

6. The HFA or AS youngster who engages in aggressive behavior often views the world as an unsafe place in which there are only victims and victimizers. Thus, they choose to be one of the latter (often times at an unconscious level). The power that is felt by hurting others – in combination with already numbed emotions – can make for a destructive mixture. Aggressive children almost always think of themselves as victims (e.g., of unfair teachers, of other bullies, of prejudice, etc.) and believe that their aggressive acts are therefore totally justified. If, for example, another student bumps up against them in the hallway, they may immediately take offense, certain that they were attacked. They can’t imagine that perhaps the bumping was just clumsiness on the other student's part or an attempt to tease that really wasn't hostile.

7. Aggressive behavior in children with HFA and AS is usually a result of anxiety, which leads to difficulty letting go of an issue and "getting stuck" on something. This is rigidity, and it is the most common reason for behavioral problems. Understanding your HFA student involves knowing the traits associated with the disorder and how they manifest themselves in everyday behaviors. How does your “special needs” student see the world, think about matters, and react to what is going on around him? Reasons for rigidity in children on the spectrum include:
  • a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of another's action
  • a violation of a rule or ritual; changing something from the way it is “supposed” to be; someone is violating a rule, and this is unacceptable to the autistic youngster
  • anxiety about a current or upcoming event, no matter how trivial it might appear to you
  • immediate gratification of a need
  • lack of knowledge about how something is done; by not knowing how the world works with regard to specific situations and events, the autistic youngster will act inappropriately instead
  • internal issues (e.g., attention difficulties, oppositional tendencies, depression, anxiety, other psychiatric issues)
  • the need to avoid or escape from a non-preferred activity, often something difficult or undesirable
  • the need to control a situation
  • the need to engage in - or continue - a preferred activity, usually an obsessive action
  • difficulty transitioning from one activity to another

The following video contains information that is especially important for teachers as they try to make sense of the HFA or AS child’s thoughts and behaviors:

Here are some specific strategies teachers and parents can employ to reduce aggression in children with HFA and AS:

1. Children with HFA and AS have difficulty expressing emotions. Sometimes stress over not being able to verbalize frustration causes aggressive behavior in these young people. For example, if the youngster is angry because he can't button his coat, but is unable to describe how he feels about lacking that skill, he may act-out aggressively. Examining the root problem and addressing it can help to curb aggression. Calm reactions on the part of the teacher or parent are important here.

2. Sometimes aggressive behavior is predictable. For example, does wearing a warm winter sweater cause the child to become upset? Maybe the fabric feels uncomfortable against his skin, or the smell of the drier sheet is offensive to him. Examine every component of a situation that seems to trigger aggressive actions and make the necessary adjustments.

3. If aggressive behavior has developed suddenly or has gotten worse over time, then find out if the youngster has a food allergy. Other factors to consider are environmental conditions, change in medication, or a change in the home or school setting. Some drugs contribute to aggression. Also, seasonal or food allergies can cause discomfort that the youngster can't describe, leading to extreme behavior.

4. When the youngster with autism acts-out, the family may blame him for ALL the family's dysfunction. Oftentimes, I will see a family that will present an aggressive youngster for treatment. This is the sacrificial lamb for the family's toxicity. Moms and dads need to examine their own behavior, and if need be, the entire family should seek counseling.

5. Medications are frequently used in the management of aggression, and current psychopharmacologic treatment strategies involve treating aggression as part of each particular syndrome. Before prescribing medication for aggression, the clinician should ensure that the child has a medical evaluation to rule out contraindications to treatment and to determine whether the aggressive symptoms may improve without the use of drugs (e.g., through the use cognitive-behavioral therapy). A psychiatric evaluation is also necessary to determine whether depression, anxiety, or other problems are present. Treatment of these conditions may also result in reduced symptoms of aggression.

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

6. Try to promote appropriate social interactions and help the HFA or AS student “fit-in” better. Social-skills training can take place both in the classroom and in more individualized settings. Approaches that have been most successful utilize direct modeling and role-playing at a concrete level. By rehearsing and practicing how to handle various social situations, the youngster can learn to generalize the skills to other settings.

7. Try to insure that school staff outside of the classroom (e.g., PE teacher, bus driver, school nurse, cafeteria monitor, librarian, etc.) are familiar with the HFA or AS youngster's style and needs. Those less structured settings where the routines and expectations are less clear tend to be difficult for children on the spectrum.

8. Teachers should take full advantage of the youngster's areas of “special interest.” The HFA or AS youngster will learn best when an area of high personal interest is on the agenda. You can also use access to the special interests as a reward to the youngster for successful completion of other tasks, adherence to rules, and meeting behavioral expectations.

9. Put as many details as possible into an IEP so that progress can be monitored and carried over from year to year. It may be helpful to enlist the aid of outside consultants familiar with the management of young people on the autism spectrum (e.g., psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.).

10. Most autistic students respond well to the use of visuals (e.g., schedules, charts, lists, pictures, etc.).

11. Kids on the spectrum can be fairly rigid about following "rules" quite literally. While clearly expressed rules and guidelines (preferably written down) are helpful, they should be applied with some flexibility. The rules don’t automatically have to be exactly the same for the autistic youngster as for the other students, because his needs and abilities are different.

12. Keep teaching fairly concrete. Avoid language that may be misunderstood by the HFA or AS youngster (e.g., sarcasm, confusing figurative speech, idioms, etc.) Try to simplify more abstract language and concepts.

13. If motor clumsiness is a significant problem, an Occupational Therapist can provide helpful input.

14. HFA and AS kids often don’t understand rigid displays of authority – and will themselves become more rigid and stubborn if forcefully confronted. Their behavior can then get rapidly out of control. Thus, sometimes it’s better for the teacher to simply back-off and let things cool down. When possible, anticipate such situations and take preventative measures to avoid the confrontation through presentation of choices, negotiation, and diversion of attention elsewhere.

15. Classroom routines should be kept as consistent, structured and predictable as possible. Students with autism usually don't like surprises. They need to be prepared in advance for changes and transitions (e.g., schedule breaks, vacation days, etc.).

Teachers need to educate themselves about autism spectrum disorders – and how it affects behavior and the learning process. Without a clear understanding of HFA and AS, teachers will not understand the affected child’ motivations or behaviors. Actions that are clearly a part of the disorder can be confused with defiance and dealt with inappropriately. Oftentimes, the child on the spectrum who is acting-out with aggression or other forms of behavioral problems is not making a concerted effort to be oppositional, rather he is trying to cope in a world that feels hostile to him.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


•    Anonymous said… Absolutely. My daughter was having the same issue and come to find out the kids were teasing her.
•    Anonymous said… Could u maybe try to explain that because he has so much amazing energy that you could really use his help with an extra job you need some help with. Keep him extra busy , stimulated something that will help redirect the energy but also keep him engaged feeling great but that he is in control of himself and the situation( this being a healthy way)
•    Anonymous said… Draw two stick figures, one is labeled with your student's name. Show the other figure pushing your student. Ask him how his stick figure feels. Make it visual. I hope this makes sense- It works great!
•    Anonymous said… Emotion coaching - to allow you to make a connection with the child to find out what is going on in their world, it highlights that you care what they are going thru before you jump to the conclusion of what has happened.
•    Anonymous said… Have you incorporated Sensory Breaks into his school day? My son needs large muscle motor input breaks to regulate his mood. i.e.: the teacher has him carry to filled jugs of water to the office each morning, he also " gets" to help pull down the tables in the cafeteria and push them up at the end of lunch, he does pull ups and stairs when he is fidgety and sometimes pushed the book cart around in the library. These are things OT can help schedule throughout a student's day that are calming
•    Anonymous said… He is copying what is done to him behind teacher's backs. Or he is responding to these kids. These kids just are able to hide it better. Once a kid was pinching my daughter behind her back where I couldn't see. She finally admitted to it, why my daughter was hitting her.
•    Anonymous said… Honestly, sometimes I am happy she knows how to push back and doesn't take crap from anyone, but i know don't lay your hands on people.
•    Anonymous said… I agree that it is probably a reaction to something. Is it always at a certain time ie in line, when he's physically close to other kids? Could be a sensory thing ie reaction to light touch or pushing, or sensory seeking,or reaction to kids words, looks or taunts. Having had 2 of my 3 kids bullied, mean kids know how to stay under the radar.
•    Anonymous said… I found a boy i helped with at school would do this to remove people from his personal area, he would kick and push people who walked past him, i found if i moved him to the side of a foot traffic area, preferably more than an arm/leg length, and gave him another form of sensory distraction, in his case it was holding one of my braids or an earring so his touch was occupied he was able to focus more on the task without having the impulse to 'touch'(kick and punch) other people that happened to venture past him
•    Anonymous said… I love that you are asking here for advice... my son went through hell at primary and was always blamed in incidents .. he wasn't diagnosed until high school ... usually other children knowing his triggers would sneakily do something then sit back and watch the drama knowing my son would be sent home or suspended.. breaks my heart as I was always asking him to apologise ... now he finds it hard to deal with authority
•    Anonymous said… I'll bet that technically his behavior is not aggressive but rather is reactive-- at least in HIS mind he's protecting his space or defending some line. Or, as Trina outlines above, frustrated at others stepping out of line.. Aspies tend to have very linear thinking, and are big on following rules, so adults need to teach them to live within a "no touch" rule, and provide an alternate behavior to diffuse the frustration. Oh, and meds may help lengthen his fuse.
•    Anonymous said… It could be a sensory issue. What if he had some time in a motor room or by himself to take a break and do some wall push ups? Scheduled breaks to decrease sensory over load before it occurs work better than randomly waiting until you ( or he) think he needs a break.
•    Anonymous said… My 10 year old is this way with younger brother. I just hope it never happens at school.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter does this exact thing, no matter how many times we all try to explain, she can't see to control it....
•    Anonymous said… My daughter used to get enraged with the kids around her at that age because they weren't following directions. She would follow the rules but others around her would be talking or turned around-touching walls or art hanging from the walls. She would usually start by stating the rule to them quietly; offering to help them but she would end up screaming at them. She had a couple of kids who were button pushers and they would make faces at her. I would try moving him to the front of the line or give him a job in line that requires carrying something for the teacher or himself. I'd prefer a child not have a fiddler or something out of the ordinary as the goal is to learn age-appropriate behaviors that they can continue to refine.
•    Anonymous said… My daughter was the same, from primary where the boy nxt to her poked her with a pencil then laughed when she lost it in class to being beaten up in college for her smart mouth instead of just walking away  :( And no amount of trying to explain to teachers worked either
•    Anonymous said… my son is the same age and does the same thing. He is in an EC class. Rewards don't work for him. All of his teachers since preschool agree that rewards do not work for him. My son only has 7 kids in his class and is not being bullied. I know a lot of kids are. My son does get suspended for any pushing offense.
•    Anonymous said… My son was like that, HFA now 8. He felt he should take things into his own hands, like he was on par with adults. I think the main cause behind it though was was suffering with high anxiety at the time between sensory difficulties and struggling to cope in the normal school environment without and support (prior to any diagnosis). I believe over time it has improved but reality is though children with AS can be easy targets in school, whereby other children deliberately target them to frustrate them in order to receive a reaction- as was in my son case some of the time. Other times it was misunderstanding a social situation. I would say since he was support with part time SNA, Resource hours, visual schedules, Movement breaks, OT as well as overall others adults having a better understanding of his needs he is generally less likely to behave in this manner (I guess he hasn't got the same level of anxiety). I also completed a social story about adults being in charge. And most importantly when my son finally did approach a teacher or member of staff about a grievance he was listen to and it was addressed. When he does this I make a point of telling him well done, highlighting that this was the best option and we discuss the "what if" had he not done so. Bear in mind typically he would have difficulties expressing his angry verbally, restraining him self from reacting and was normally in Trouble with the staff for his physical behaviour! Eventually things did change, but we still have moments, more so at home on hitting when tired, frustrated etc
•    Anonymous said… My son will explain to me (when he's calm) what instigated it, there could have been an incident that occurred some time ago but there is always a trigger
•    Anonymous said… My son's aggression vanished once the teacher implemented Sensory breaks every 1-2 hrs. Swueexing TheraPutty is also a nice break, chewing gum , bouncing on a therapy ball or minitramp.. It just might prevent a suspension
•    Anonymous said… My suggestion is to investigate whether or not the other kids in the class are doing things that trigger his behavior. Many times a spectrum kiddo with react to something like name calling or other types of bullying by becoming aggressive and sadly, many times, the focus is only on the spectrum kiddo. As care givers (and I count teachers in that category as well) we have to broaden our thinking. Consider how you might want to behave if your co-workers treated you differently by bullying you in some way. Now consider how a child has less ability to control their emotions. Talk with him maybe do a timeline of the last couple of days in class to see if you can find a trigger to his behavior. I do a linear timeline like "So you got to school and what did you do first?" "And then what happened?"... and so on. You might be surprised at what you find when you explore his world a little more closely. Social isolation and harassment can make people of any age become aggressive and most kids on the spectrum are treated vastly different because they behave differently. Also consider what his options are if he is getting mistreated by classmates. For instance, does he have the option of having sensory breaks? Does he have a person he can go speak to about things that make him upset outside of the classroom? Does your school have a "safe room" for kids to go to when they're feeling overwhelmed or angry? All of these things make a child feel as though they are welcome and cared for in the school environment and all too often schools don't take the time to make small adjustments that provide a more inclusive environment for everyone. I appreciate that you care enough to put the question to the group. I hope some of my suggestions are helpful.
•    Anonymous said… Other kids do things to my son in class that frustrate him. High functioning autism is hard because we forget how sensitive they really are. The smells, the sounds, even how something feels can throw them over the edge. Parents have to be involved with home intervention as well. It takes a village.
•    Anonymous said… reward system for not shoving is necessary. He won't learn anything just by reminders, he does not have the empathy or social skills to understand his affect on others, he just does what comes naturally. A social story is a start, but definitely needs a reward system to make him feel motivated to change.
•    Anonymous said… The issue is sometimes it's just rage. They have no control. They don't even remember whats just happened sometimes. Its not behavior. It's a response.. prevention is better than a cure. Triggers can be something not so obvious.. over stimulation, irritation... learning the triggers is hard because they're not always obvious but its the only way  :(
•    Anonymous said… The only person my 10 year old high functioning aspie is aggressive with is his older brother. He happens to be a button pusher and knows every single button to push. Start watching for the subtle ways your student's buttons are being pushed. They are there I promise.
•    Anonymous said… There may "seem to be" no cause, but get someone to actually watch the class for a while and you might find some kid is very sneakily winding them up while no one is looking. It's surprisingly common. Apart from that look fir triggers, other kids too close, background noise, florescent lights. Neurotypical folks gave no idea just how maddening those things can be.
•    Anonymous said… Watch what the other kids are doing to him. Observe. You may see whispered taunts, them making faces at him, anything to get him into trouble for this. "Accidentally" shoving into him as they walk past.

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